What Is Involved In Pet Sitting?

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Lindsay Butzer, DVM
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Dr. Lindsay Butzer
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Pet Sitting

Have you ever thought about hiring a professional pet sitter? It might just be the easiest part of planning your next trip.
The first week of March marks National Professional Pet Sitters Week, first introduced in 1995 by Pet Sitters International (PSI) to raise awareness of the benefits of hiring a reputable pet professional to care for your four-legged family members. Learn how to find a pet sitter you can trust to keep your pets safe, healthy, and stress-free when you’re away.

Benefits of Using A Pet Sitter

When you’re traveling for work, on vacation, or otherwise won’t be home for an extended period of time, a pet sitter can step in to care for your pets at home.
Traveling with pets can be expensive, difficult, and stressful both for you and your dog or cat. International travel requirements, airline restrictions, and non-pet-friendly hotel or housing accommodations can make it impossible to take your pet with you.
Pet boarding facilities can work for some, especially for highly sociable pets that do not mind being around other animals. For many pets, though, staying in a boarding facility away from home can be anxiety-inducing.
When you use a pet sitter, your pets get to stay home and sleep in their own beds. Your pet sitter can visit your pets several times a day for mealtimes, potty breaks, litter box clean-ups, and to make sure your pet has fresh water. Some also offer add-on services like house-sitting duties or overnight stays.
As opposed to friends, family members, and hobby pet sitters, a professional pet sitter is likely trained in first aid and CPR, has a strong understanding of animal communication and body language, and takes care of every small-yet-important detail, like making sure doors and gates are locked and you return to a home that’s just as you left it.
Pet sitting is great for pets that are prone to anxiety, do not enjoy travel, or do not easily adapt to unfamiliar environments. Pets look forward to visits from a friendly, familiar face with one-on-one care and attention.

Getting Started With A Pet Sitter

You can find a pet sitter through a local pet sitting company that’s accredited through Pet Sitters International (PSI) or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). Professional pet sitting companies are bonded and insured, and if they have employees, they will typically have been trained in-person and will have passed a series of interviews and background checks.
To get started with a pet sitter, they may need to come to your home for a meet-and-greet, during which they will get to know your pets and any routines, medications, dietary restrictions, or any other special needs they might have. You can also ask about your pet sitter’s experience, qualifications, and references during the meet-and-greet. If you’ve found a sitter you're happy with, your pet sitter will have you fill out on-boarding documents such as an emergency contact form and a policy agreement or contract. Your pet sitter will likely also need a copy of your house key or a garage code so they can enter your home when you’re not there.

What Happens During A Pet Sitting Visit?

Your pet sitter will visit your home 1-3 times per day or as scheduled during agreed-upon time windows. If your pet needs a meal or medication at a specific time, let your pet sitter know.
For dogs, the sitter may take your dog for a leashed walk or take them out to your backyard for a potty break. They may play indoors or out to give your dog the physical, emotional, and mental stimulation they’re missing when you're not around. They will keep track of whether your dog poops or pees, and may give treats, refresh the water bowl, or serve a meal.
For cats, your sitter will typically serve a meal or top off the food bowl, refresh their water, and play with, brush, or snuggle your cat. Every pet’s needs are different, and your pet sitter will gauge whether your pet wants lots of love or attention, or prefers to keep to themselves while their needs are met. Your pet sitter will likely send you photos and updates via text or email.

What Else Can A Pet Sitter Do?

Pet sitters may be specially trained to give medication, administer subcutaneous fluids, administer insulin, or otherwise care for special medical needs. Many are trained in pet CPR and can handle emergencies if they come up.
Many pet sitters also take care of house-sitting duties like bringing in mail, watering plants, changing lights around, checking for water leaks, and otherwise helping to make sure your home is safe and cared-for while you’re away.
Always discuss extra duties and expectations before hiring a pet sitter. There may be added fees for additional responsibilities, or you may choose to leave your pet sitter a tip if they go above and beyond.

 

VISION

Every pet deserves to live a long, happy, healthy life.